When I was 80, I wrote a memoir in which I said, "if in good health with all the joints and the brain working, what's the big deal?"
Well, now I am 88. Good health? I'd say not bad even though I've had a heart attack, three stents and my kidneys are working at 25 percent. The brain working? Yes, what it has lost in speed it has made up for in maturity of judgement.
Joints working? Aye, there's the rub. My knee has blown up; water has been removed; I've experienced gout in my hand, fingers and big toe. My right wrist is weak and hurts, thereby eliminating racquet sports.
Of course, it could be worse. Knees now fine, as our hips, shoulders, elbows. No replacements yet. And to be alive and functioning at 88 is a triumph in itself.
Still, I've become more acquainted than I want with the doctors at the Hospital for Special Surgery. It's embarrassing to bring them my knee, then my hand, then my wrist. "It's a moving feast," I say to no one's interest.
I'm being specific, but there is a general principle here. It gets worse. You want to live a long life. Good, but you can't avoid issues. Take my lunch group. Bert has had a stroke; David is legally blind; Mickey uses a walker; Justin is leaning ever more precariously; my joints are as described.
Hey, so far no cancer, no dementia. A privileged group. And we have an iron man, Harry. He still plays singles tennis; he exhibits no weakness. We are in awe of him but we know his time will come.
We count our blessings -- from living in America to lunches at the Harvard Club to mixing with our grandchildren.
So joints, do as you will. We enjoy this day as much a we did when we were younger. And tomorrow when it gets worse, we will enjoy as much as today. The glass is at least half full, and around 90, a half-filled glass is something to cheer.
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